• Dec 12th 2008 at 12:31PM
  • 114
Earlier this morning, United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger held a press conference in which he pointed the finger of blame back at Senate Republicans, particularly ones from Southern states in which many foreign-owned auto assembly plants are located, for the failed attempt last night to pass the Auto Rescue/Bailout Bill in the Senate. As we mentioned earlier, negotiations fell apart over the issue of wage parity, or what Senator Bob Corkey (R-Tenn.) called "competitive wages".
Gettelfinger claims the UAW was willing to make its wages and benefits competitive with those earned by non-union workers at transplant factories, but felt it must be done over time through the attrition of older, higher-paid workers and the hiring of new workers at a lower wage with less benefits. Despite this concession by the UAW, Senate Republicans demanded that wages and benefits be made competitive by what it calls an "arbitrary date", likely March 31, 2009.

It seems like a minor issue to stall such an important piece of legislation, which may lend credence to Gettelfinger's suspicion that the UAW was "set up" as a scapegoat by Senate Republicans who have it out for organized labor.
[Source: The Detroit Free Press, MSNBC, Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty]

UAW Statement

"The UAW is deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans have blocked the bipartisan legislation that was agreed to by President Bush and congressional Democrats.

"In an effort to work out a compromise, the UAW was prepared to agree that any restructuring plan should ensure that the wages and benefits of workers at the domestic automakers should be competitive with those paid by the foreign transplants. But we also recognized that this would take time to work out and implement, using attrition programs to allow the companies to hire new workers at the lower wage and benefit rates. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans insisted that this had to be accomplished by an arbitrary deadline. This arbitrary requirement was not imposed on any other stakeholder groups. Thus, the UAW believed this was a blatant attempt to make workers shoulder the lion's share of the costs of any restructuring plan.

"The UAW has recognized from the beginning that all stakeholders will be required to make sacrifices to ensure the viability of the domestic auto companies. We were prepared to do our part. But we could not accept the GOP demands to treat workers differently from all other stakeholders, and to subject them to different requirements than other groups.

"Now that the legislation has been blocked by Senate Republicans, the UAW calls on Secretary Paulson to use his authority to provide TARP funds to provide emergency assistance to the domestic auto companies. The ball is squarely in his court. He has the power to prevent the imminent collapse of the companies, and the disastrous consequences that will follow for millions of retirees and workers and for the economy of our entire nation."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      What the retort from the Republicans SHOULD be:

      "Gettlefinger, if you don't like this paycut, you sure aren't going to like the next one."
        • 6 Years Ago
        Tagg: Until the Detroit 3 RECENTLY said they'd work for $1 they received "free" cars & travel as well... only they made MILLIONS (for sub par work). As for Gettelfinger getting "free" travel... the UAW doesn't have private jets... they have their president fly COMMERCIAL.

        Add up his "perks" as the top dog & they look like a joke to the Fortune 500 world.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Gettelfinger makes less than 150K a year... less than those Republican senators you love so much. Some of those Repub. senators have LOST their job... they were voted OUT in November... with help from blue collar votes.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Maybe he makes less than that but he travels on the dues paid by the workers. He also gets cars for free because I worked at a Detroit area Ford dealer and he came in about two years ago to pick up an Escape hybrid. He didn't pay a dime according to the general manager. Ford footed the bill.

        Oh, by the way. He drove up in a Cadillac Escalade that I highly doubt he paid for either.

        So making $150,000 per year and never having to pay for a car, travel and many meals isn't exactly the "working class hero" mantra he claims to be.

        Thats less than many democrat senators too until you factor in how much they take in on the side and under the table.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Check out the movie Gung Ho, with Michael Keaton. Made over 20 years ago.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Gung Ho: made in 1986... based on the 1980's business plan & if I recall correctly it could be called a TRANSPLANT factory. Fictional JAPANESE company running an AMERICAN auto plant.

        You are recommending this poorly reviewed movie WHY????????????
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why would foreign automakers want American Cars to be competitive as a result from worker benefits and wage cut?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Shhh. Let them have their unfounded theories.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Because it gives those foreign entities the power to set standards for wages and benefits. What's to stop Toyota, Mercedes, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai from cutting their wages? Will big Dick, Shelby then insist that the UAW further reduce its wages?

        This is an insane abdication of US sovereignty. It's one thing to let the market decide if a company is paying unsustainable wages. It's another for the US Senate to compel US workers to work for wages set by foreign competitors to US industries.
        • 6 Years Ago
        well, all automakers are tied to suppliers and when one automaker goes donw it brings the supplier down and that can become a chain event untill the whole auto industry needs to files for bankrupcy

        but, this is what you call digging your own grave.
        the UAW might as well put RIP on Chrystler and figure a way on how they'll get the $$ for the pension funding from them.
        Once GM files that that $$ is also gone

        • 6 Years Ago
        The UAW is ass-backwards and always has been - i really think CH11 is going to solve a lot of this mischief they have been pulling forever. It is just incredible that these morons who don't work nearly hard enough to build a car get paid more than hard working people. Socialist BS.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have no sympathy for the heads of the union as they deserve to lose their jobs, this is their own doing. it's the rest of the union members who were fooled into believing that unions have purpose and protect the well being of employees. The union is like a political party with it's leaders only interested in themselves and those that will provide them with more money. Their existence is no longer justified.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wait. Why weren't employees of all the banks who took TARP money asked to reduce their salaries?
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Senate Republicans are correct. The UAW has been killing the car companies for decades and the slow death is now about to end--either with a bail out (a temporary reprieve) or Chapter 11.

      No surprise that Gettelfinger blames Republicans because the Democrat Party is a 50% owned by labor unions and 50% owned by trial lawyers.

      UAW workers got more than they deserved under strike threats years ago before there was any meaningful competition from imports that now build cars in the U.S. with American non-union labor.

      I'd much rather buy a car made by Americans who believe they work for their employers, not cars made by people who believe they work for their union.

      The time to bust the UAW is NOW.......good time too bust the public employee unions, too, because public education in the U.S. is a mess. But that's another subject..........
      • 6 Years Ago
      Is it me, or the Big three couldn't care less for this 15Bi? (Ford/Firestone/Bridgestone family itself could come up with $15Bi). What they really need is an excuse to break all the agreements with Ron's UAW, with popular back up, so they can be competitive and profitable again making the F150's and Hummers we love and drive.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Dear UAW Workers:

      Nobody is forcing you to keep your current job if you don't think you are getting fair treatment and compensation. If you don't like the wage cuts and benefits concessions being demanded by my fellow American taxpayers and our political representatives, if you don't like the lack of job security working for the Big 3, if you think your work is tough and you deserve more for your hard work, then feel free to look for a better job with your expertise and experience. In a country where every man, woman, and child owes $35 thousand due to our national debt, I live within my means and earn enough to put food on my own table, but I don't have enough spare change to put food on your table also.

      American Taxpayer
      • 6 Years Ago
      I am glad the GOP is working against the stupid bailout. I point the failure of the Big 3 at the UAW, take that Ron!
      • 6 Years Ago
      jesus.... the avg pay is $62400.... why the hell did i spend so many years in college studying engineering and accounting
        • 6 Years Ago
        The same reason I studied, so I wouldn't have to slave on a production line sweating in 100+ degree heat giving myself carpal tunnel and breathing dirty air.

        It may surprise you to know that working a production line sucks ass.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Studying? Did you graduate?. I'm an engineer and I make way more than $62,400. Maybe it's the accounting.
      • 6 Years Ago
      GM Vs. Toyota Wages And Benefits
      By The Associated Press
      Manufacturing.Net - December 12, 2008

      DETROIT (AP) --Hourly wages for United Auto Workers laborers at General Motors Corp. factories actually are almost equal to those paid by Toyota Motor Corp. at its older U.S. factories, according to the companies. GM says the average UAW laborer makes $29.78 per hour, while Toyota says it pays about $30 per hour.

      The difference is in benefits, with the unionized factories having far higher costs.

      GM says its total hourly labor costs are now $69 including wages, pensions and health care for active workers, plus the pension and health care costs of more than 432,000 retirees and spouses. Toyota says its total costs are around $48. The Japanese automaker has far fewer retirees and its pension and health care benefits are not as rich as those paid to UAW workers.

      The UAW has not been able to organize workers at a Toyota plant in this country; it does represent workers at one joint GM-Toyota plant in Fremont, Calif.

        • 6 Years Ago
        I wonder why they get pensions anyways? I don't get pensions. None of companies I have ever worked offered me anything that resembles a pension.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Does anyone ever ask themselves why the number changes on what seems to be a daily basis? Could it be because the number is dishonest?

        The sixty/seventy whatever dollar per hour figure is dishonest because it takes the wages and benefits of all active and retired employees and divides it by the active employees. It was figured this way so the corporations could call it "labor costs" and use the number as a political wedge to pit the public against the union while leading the public to believe that the average union auto worker makes somewhere around $70/hour in wages and benefits. It isn't true. The problem for the corporations is that it all backfired on them and the public just hates the entire American auto industry, the UAW and Detroit. So thanks to their dishonest politics, all of us here in Michigan are going to suffer. The stage had already been set to eliminate these costs forward but congress' and the public's solution is to throw people into the streets. There goes tax base, burden to the welfare and healthcare systems etc.

        Washington had NO problem handing over hundreds of billions of dollars to the financial industry, the same financial industry that created this economic mess but can't LOAN a few billion to help Detroit make it through the transitions it has already set in motion. You can call it what you will, you can hate all of Detroit but when tens of thousands of workers hit the streets the burden is going to be on you all anyway. Our problem is your problem and it's going to hurt.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is it the only mentions of pay cuts only come on the side of the workers and not the management? After all if we are all in this together then they should feel the pain as well. So reset the whole system pay everyone the same. Imagine VPs and Admins having to maintain a decent lifestyle on the same pay as their blue collar counterparts. Or better still what ever percentage of cut is done on the blue collar side is also done on the white collar side. While not truly even since a 10% cut at $62.5K ($75/hour x 8320 hrs) is allot different than at $150k but it is a start. That 10% is not enough to pull a person out of the middle class group but sure puts them close.

      Countries are built by the middle class and anything you can do to keep people in that it is good for the country.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Valid point, always double check you numbers. Still $150k is the full package (benefits, pension, vacation, etc). If I breakdown my full package this way I am making over $180/hr and I also work in IT. The biggest chunk of that is health care followed by a 401k. Cut those out and the the hourly rate drops rapidly. Try it with your own salary. Ask HR or accounting how much they pay per employee for health and how much they contribute to your 401k.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Dude, check your math.

        There are 40 hours in a week, 52 weeks in a year... 2080 hours....

        2080 hours * $75 = $156,000

        $75 * 8320 = $624,000

        Heck, if I could make $156k in a year making cars, I'd leave IT in a hearbeat!
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